Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New imagining technique could lead to better antibiotics and cancer drugs

11.11.2009
Mass spectrometry used to monitor chemical warfare between microbes

A recently devised method of imaging the chemical communication and warfare between microorganisms could lead to new antibiotics, antifungal, antiviral and anti-cancer drugs, said a Texas AgriLife Research scientist.

"Translating metabolic exchange with imaging mass spectrometry," was published Nov. 8 in Nature Chemical Biology, a prominent scientific journal. The article describes a technique developed by a collaborative team that includes Dr. Paul Straight, AgriLife Research scientist in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Dr. Pieter Dorrestein, Yu-Liang Yang and Yuquan Xu, all at the University of California, San Diego.

"Microorganisms encode in their genomes the capacity to produce many small molecules that are potential new antibiotics," Straight said. "Because we do not understand the circumstances under which those molecules are produced in the environment, we see only a small fraction of them in the laboratory."

An example is the antibiotic erythromycin, which is often prescribed for people who are allergic to penicillin, Straight said.

"We know that Saccharopolyspora erythraea, the bacteria from which erythromycin is derived, encodes the capacity to produce numerous other small molecules that might be potentially valuable drugs," he said. "Conventional microbial culture and drug discovery techniques uncovered erythromycin. Other potentially useful metabolites may require some unconventional methods for identification."

Historically, medicinal drugs have been discovered serendipitously or by finding the active ingredient in homeopathic remedies, Straight said. For example, the use of blue mold for treating wounds was a folk remedy dates back to the Middle Ages. But scientists didn't isolate and purify the active ingredient, penicillin, until the early 20th century, which marks the beginning of the era of ‘natural product’ medicines originating from microorganisms.

Modern methods of drug discovery rely on screening technologies, knowledge of how infection is controlled and why diseases originate at the molecular level. Some new drugs can be designed accordingly from the ground up, often at significant cost, but serendipitous discovery of what nature has to offer is still a valid approach, he said.

Microorganisms, such as the bacteria that produces erythromycin, have been communicating and battling with each other for millennia using similar small molecules.

"What we learn about how microbes interact and exchange chemicals, and how the presence of one signaling molecule or antibiotic changes the output of potential antibiotics from a neighboring microbe, will guide us to new strategies for boosting the number of potential therapeutic drugs from any given bacteria," Straight said.

The National Institutes of Health recognizes the need to boost development of new drug compounds, he said.

"Globally, there is a shortage of new antibiotics that are being discovered by pharmaceutical companies in the traditional way and an ever-increasing number of multiple drug-resistant pathogens and newly emerging pathogens," Straight said.

The method of Straight, Dorrestein and colleagues employed an instrument called a "matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometer." The device ionizes part of the sample with a laser beam while a crystalline matrix prevents the bio-molecules from being destroyed.

The plate upon which the bio sample sits is moved during the scan, from which hundreds to thousands of spectra are collected. The data is then processed as a grid and rendered as false-color by computer, then overlaid on a visual image of the sample.

Straight, Dorrestein and colleagues used two common bacteria that are cultured in the laboratory for their tests, Bacillus subtilis and Steptomyces coelicolor, both commonly found in soils. The bacteria were cultured together and their complex chemical interaction recorded using the mass spectrometer.

In competition for resources, the bacteria produced small molecules that alter antibiotic production from patterns present when cultured separately, Straight said. For example, they found that production of an antibiotic that targets Gram-positive organisms (Streptococcus and Staphylococcus are examples of Gram-positive organsims) was inhibited in one bacteria by the other.

The data reveal the chemical complexity of interspecies encounters. Using genetic sequencing, the researchers found that bacteria may dedicate up to 20 percent of their DNA to the bio-synthesis of small molecules in their communications and chemical battles with other microorganisms.

By: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191
Contact(s): Dr. Paul Straight, 979-845-4231, paul_straight@tamu.edu

Robert Burns | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>